• 19 Sep 2014 /  Reviews

    KILLJOY

    2000/18/72m

    “He’s not clowning around!”

    Director: Craig Ross / Writer: Carl Washington / Cast: Angel Vargas, Vera Yell, Lee Marks, D Austin, Jamal Grimes, William L. Johnson, Corey Hampton, Rano Goulant.

    Body Count: 4

    Laughter Lines: “That is why I’m here – to tell you all that you are in grave danger from the evil that calls itself…Killjoy!”

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    With a score of 2.4 on IMDb, this should really suck. In a lot of ways, it does, but I can at least say I wasn’t suicidally bored watching Killjoy – something that can’t be said for several other films I’ve endured recently.

    Archetypal dork Michael (Grimes) loves Jada (Yell), but gets beaten up by her violent ex-boyfriend Lorenzo (Johnson) at every available opportunity. He tries to summon Killjoy, a sub-Beetlejuice murderous clown, to exact revenge, but is kidnapped and shot dead by Lorenzo and his homeys beforehand.

    Soon after, each member of the gang is coerced by Killjoy in his ice-cream van, which serves as a portal to a nether realm where he imprisons them. Think Freddy in the Hood.

    The ghost of a random homeless guy appears to Jada’s friend Monique and tells her that only Jada can defeat Killjoy by breaking Michael’s heart and destroying the doll. But Killjoy won’t go that easily.

    Highlights include:

    • (without validation) “We should split up.” / “What?” / “It’s the only way!”
    • A booming off-camera voice from the sky to remind Jada about the doll (but sounds like the actor is stood beside the cameraman).
    • Monique, upon realising that Killjoy is undefeated and has minions to do his bidding, says “oh no” as if she’s broken a nail.
    • Watch the eyebrows of ‘the girlfriend’ in the scene at the club near the end.

    Dreadful in almost every way, but kinda funny at times, and at least Vargas really throws his all into the title role.



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  • 14 Sep 2014 /  Reviews

    DARK RIDE

    2006/18/94m

    “The last ride you’ll ever take!”

    Director / Writer: Craig Singer / Writer: Robert Dean Klein / Cast: Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Patrick Renna, Alex Solowitz, David Rogers, Jennifer Kelly Tisdale, Andrea Bogart, Brittney Coyle, Chelsey Coyle, Dave Warden.

    Body Count: 10

    Laughter Lines: “Why does it always have to be Jonah… or Jason… or Jedidiah? I mean why can’t it be Bob, or Gus, or even Chris?”

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    It’s The Funhouse revisited when six road-tripping college kids stop over at the abandoned ‘Dark Ride’ (to the rest of us: ghost train) of Asbury Park Pier, New Jersey (through obviously Santa Monica Pier), to take a look at the place where twin sisters were murdered in 1989 by the psychotic who happened to escape from his institution a fortnight earlier… Hilarity turns to horror as the masked maniac breaks up their party by knocking them off in textbook slasher movie style.

    Dark Ride was one of the ‘After Dark Horrorfest’ titles, and so gained a limited theatrical release. Quite why it was chosen for the festival of films ‘too intense’ remains a bit of a mystery as there’s very little here that hasn’t been seen or done on multiple previous occasions and with a bit more flair as well. While Craig Singer is a competent director and makes good use of visual effects and has some nice setups to toy with, the script is so paint-by-numbers that virtually nothing that happens is a surprise.

    A major problem lies in the characters: Sigler (of The Sopranos) isn’t a particularly likeable heroine and her friends are nothing but a string of stereotypes who bitch and moan about everything with the exception of film-nerd Bill (Renna), who just doesn’t belong at all. The production team have evidently made a beeline for an authentic old-school feel with their film, but have overlooked the requirement for happy, bouncy teens the audience might care about seeing sliced and diced, rather than a bunch of snotty brats who don’t have a single nice thing to say to one another.

    Another detracting factor is that, after the opening scare, it takes an hour for the massacre proper to kick off, but at least when it does it’s garnished with some grisly demises, including a sticky cranial split. The Jason-like killer, Jonah, also has one of the creepier masks in some time, but you can just smell that last-minute twist coming, especially as one particular character hasn’t been seen in a while…

    How to rank it? Well, it’d be the better half of a double bill with the not dissimilar See No Evil.

    ABBA: Never underestimate their global impact on horror.



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  • 09 Sep 2014 /  Reviews

    DEADLY DREAMS

    1988/18/76m

    “Shocking, grisly murders… Did he dream them, commit them, or both?”

    Director: Kristine Peterson / Writer: Thom Babbes / Cast: Mitchell Anderson, Juliette Cummins, Xander Berkeley, Thom Babbes.

    Body Count: 5

    Laughter Lines: “He sacrificed a fucking deer in there, and he’s going to sacrifice ME!”

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    While definitely not your average killer-from-the-past tale, Deadly Dreams seesaws between a Halloween-lite psycho slasher and Hitchcockian thriller.

    Aged ten, Alex (Anderson) bore witness to the shootings of his parents at the hands of a business rival of his father’s. Ten years later he suffers from recurrent nightmares that the wolf-masked killer has come back for him. His power-suit clad brother (Berkeley) offers him nothing but pressure to use his share of their inheritance for his failing business venture; new girlfriend Maggie doesn’t seem to understand, and best bud Danny keeps playing pranks on him in between drug trips.

    After several brutal subconscious incidents – the best of which has a fab knife-through-pillows filleting – Alex believes he’s actually losing it and his waking encounters with wolfie are hallucinations. Soon after this point, the plot takes a dramatic, fairly unpredictable twist before going hammer and tongs into the woodland finale where Alex learns the painful truth.

    Impressive as revelation is, it’s nothing compared to the staggering final surprise, one which lifts Deadly Dreams from forgettable video territory to a low-budget gem. Unfortunately, too few people have seen or appreciated it so it remains largely unknown.

    Gay actor Mitchell Anderson is fine as the agitated lead and it’s always good to see Cummins on screen, while director Kristine Peterson turns in a good looking production that truly deserves more credit than it has so far received.

    Blurbs-of-interest: Anderson was also in All-American Murder; Juliette Cummins was Robin in Friday the 13th Part VPsycho III, and Slumber Party Massacre II.



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  • 04 Sep 2014 /  VIP's of Slasherdom

    Jenny Lo nominates third inductee to the Slasherdom Hall of Whatever™ – Friday the 13th Part V‘s sub-Madonna, robo-dancing punkster Violet, played by the lovely Tiffany Helm. One of the troubled residents of the Unger Institute in the middle of the woods, poor Vi just wants to dance, dance, dance through her problems. Whatever they are.

    Alas, “Jason” puts an end to that path of therapy with a swift machete to the chest.

    #…there’s a man with no life in his eyezzzz…#

    .

    Talents: Violet can do laundry but has a habit of forgetting co-residents have died when setting the table.
    Attitude: Introverted and a little short-fused. But she’s sorry, alright? She. Said. She. Was. SAWRY!!!
    Why we love her: The hair. The ‘tude. That dance.




  • 31 Aug 2014 /  Reviews

    CAMP DREAD

    2014/18/90m

    “Pitch your tent, dig your grave.”

    Director/Writer: B. Harrison Smith / Cast: Eric Roberts, Felissa Rose, Nicole Cinaglia, Joe Raffa, Alexander Mandell, Montana Marks, Ashley Sumner, Gnomi Gre, Dave Raphaely, Angel Valerio, Brian Gallagher, Danielle Harris, Angel Sanchez, Kyle Patrick Brennan.

    Body Count: 14

    Laughter Lines: “We all know that work dried up for you after three shit films and you got tired of stalkers sending you come-stained fan letters.”

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    Ignore that cover and that tagline: There were no tents anywhere in this production. It’s pure summer camp goodness through n’ through!

    In spite of a dismal 3.8 rating on IMDb, some clunky editing, and titles that look like they were typed out on an early Spectrum computer, Camp Dread is actually a pretty good, high-slaughter count apparent homage to Sleepaway Camp (with touches of Friday the 13th; witness a character named Adrienne) - filmed at a camp that looks suspiciously like Camp Arawak, and featuring Felissa Rose in a central role!

    So it goes, washed up actor Eric Roberts plays washed up director Julian Barrett, who found fame in the 80s with the Summer Camp series of cheap slasher films, which starred Rachel Steele (Rose), but relations became bad between those involved and the series stalled to its end.

    Now, with the chance to direct a remake, Julian presents a group of legally-tangled young folks (all over 21!)  with the chance to win $1million if they attend the old camp from the film for counselling sessions with actress-turned-therapist Rachel. They’ll be filmed for the duration on CCTV cameras and the will be ‘killed’ by production assistants. The last one standing walks away with the cash.

    Of course, the ‘killings’ are less eliminations, more genuine slayings, with arrows in the eye, poisoned sandwiches, and being beaten to death with a false leg atop the options… Has one of the jittery contestants snapped? Is Julian behind it all?

    Rachel soon becomes suspicious as the disappearances mount up, and discovers in-depth profiles on all the kids, some of whom have quite violent histories.

    Numbers continue to dwindle until the usual nice couple are left, though at this point Camp Dread elects to reveal its apparent ‘twist’, which the seasoned viewer will see coming. It’s obnoxiously juvenile and quite annoying, pulling the rug of probability out from beneath itself, piling twist upon twist on top of everything until it goes beyond a stretch of credibility to a full blown bolt across the line.

    Still, when it comes to making me happy, you can rarely go wrong with a summer camp slasher film: Most of the palatable elements are in place, the characters not too objectionable, the locus quaint and used wisely, and the murders mercifully CG-free and bloody without being excessive.

    Danielle Harris, despite her star billing, appears for all of five minutes as the local Sheriff, but Felissa is in it for the long haul and is, as expected, awesome.

    Blurbs-of-interest: Eric Roberts was also in Groupie; Felissa Rose was Angela in Sleepaway Camp and Return to…; Danielle Harris began her impressive slasher movie career in Halloween‘s 4 & 5, Rob Zombie’s remake and its sequel, Urban Legend, Hatchet’s II & III, Blood Night, and ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2.


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